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Inexpensive Professional Author Photos March 1, 2016

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
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Publishers recommend authors get a professionally taken photo for their Web site, but if you’re like most authors (or other starving artists), you may question how you can afford this. I’ve found a few options that work for me.

First, with the advent of PhotoShop, there are a lot of amateur photographers who can either match the skill of a professional photographer or come close to it. They are generally far less expensive also. I’ve paid college students who have a strong interest in photography to take photos for me.

Second, when I was promoting my books, I did many newspaper and magazine interviews, and these articles usually included a photo of me with my latest book. When I saw a photo I liked, I asked the reporter or photographer if I would be able to purchase it (and the copyright) to use in my publicity. Sometimes the photographer owns the rights, and sometimes the publication does, but either way, I’ve found most of them are willing to sell a photograph with copyright after they’re done with it.

Third, professional organizations like clubs, schools, employers, and churches often take photos of their members. Frequently, these are head-and-shoulder shots perfect for showing your readers who you are. The photographer may have a written agreement with the organization, releasing the copyright, but if not, be sure to ask for written permission to reprint your photo in other media.

 

 

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Better Google Searches for Writers February 2, 2013

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Hands down, the Internet beats the old days when writers had to go to the library to research a topic. Now anyone can retrieve information with a few computer clicks. I frequently use Google in my searches and have discovered the following ways to improve results:

  • Use the asterisk (*) as a wild card with the words you’re searching. For example, if you wanted to search for me on the Web but couldn’t remember my last name but knew I was a children’s author, you could type Ronica * children’s author and related sites would pop up, providing my last name.
  • Use the minus sign before words you want to exclude from the search. Using a similar example, if you searched solely on my first name, Ronica, and a bunch of “Ronica Smith” sites showed up, you could eliminate Ronica Smith from your search by typing Ronica -Smith.
  • Put quotation marks around a word or two (such as “Ronica Stromberg”) to pull up sites only with the word (or words) as quoted.
  • To find the word you’re searching for on a Web site that came up, hit Control-F (Command-F on a Mac) and enter the word you’re searching for again. This will highlight the word you’re searching for. I’ve found this useful when a Web site has page after page of text but no clear indication where the word or phrase I’m searching for may be.
  • To restrict search results to a specific URL, add site: in front of the URL. For example, dognapper site:nytimes.com would pull articles printed about dognappers at The New York Times domain.
  • To find sites similar to one you’re using, type related: before the URL of the site (as in related:nytimes.com).
  • Use two periods between numeric ranges to find information about a range. For example, if you wanted to find information about gasoline prices between 1970 and 1980, you could type gasoline prices 1970 . . 1980. Writers of historical novels may find this particularly useful for research.
  • To use Google as a dictionary and look up the definition of a word, type define: immediately followed by the word.
  • To find the current weather in a town (in case you are about to set off on a book talk or other trip), type weather in followed by the town’s name.
  • To convert currency or measurements, use search formats such as 50 pesos in US dollars or 100 kilometers in miles.
  • To find the title of a song that lyrics come from, type some of the more distinct lyrics followed by :lyric. For example, when I type want to be a paperback writer:lyric, several sites appear, letting me know this line of lyrics comes from the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” song.
  • To get alerted about breaking news on a topic, go to http://www.google.com/alerts and enter the topic and your e-mail address. Google will then e-mail you the next time news on the topic appears on the Internet. I know a lot of authors type their name or key words from their works into this site to track online publicity and, also, to check whether their writing is being plagiarized.

Instead of doing a general search of the whole Internet, I may have only a specific area I want to search. The following are my favorites.

blogs     http://www.google.com/blogsearch

books     http://books.google.com/

finance     http://www.google.com/finance  This search of the latest financial news may be of particular interest to business and financial writers.

images     http://images.google.com  This site can be misleading. When I searched on “F. Scott Fitzgerald,” the name of one of my favorite authors, photos of him–and a bunch of other people–cropped up. Had I not already known what F. Scott Fitzgerald looked like, the site wouldn’t have helped much.

news     http://news.google.com/

patents     http://www.google.com/?tbm=pts

scholarly works   http://scholar.google.com/

videos     http://www.google.com/videohp

Writing Quotations December 10, 2011

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For a long time, I’ve gathered quotations about writing and the writing life and thought I might use these in a presentation or an article about writing. Now I’ve decided to share the quotations here as a Christmas gift from me to you. Perhaps one will inspire you or give you a new insight. If you have a favorite writing quotation I missed, please share it in the comments section.

“Writing is easy. All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” — Gene Fowler

“Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being.” — A.A. Milne

“The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.” — John Steinbeck

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London

“A man may write at any time, if he will set himself doggedly to it.” — Samuel Johnson

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” — E.L. Doctorow

“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” — E.M. Forster

“The cat sat on the mat is not a story. The cat sat on the other cat’s mat is a story.” — John Le Carré

If you would not be forgotten,

As soon as you are dead and rotten,

Either write things worthy reading,

Or do things worth the writing.

— Benjamin Franklin

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” — Robert Frost

“All fiction is largely autobiographical and much autobiography is, of course, fiction.” — P.D. James

“Journalism largely consists in saying, ‘Lord Jones is dead’ to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.” — G.K. Chesterton

“There is so much to be said in favor of modern journalism. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.” — Oscar Wilde

“I’m all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let’s start with typewriters.” — Frank Lloyd Wright

“What I would say to a young person trying to become a writer is ‘Don’t.’ It won’t make any difference because they’ll do it anyway, but they really shouldn’t.” — A.L. Kennedy

“Some writers take to drink, others take to audiences.” — Gore Vidal

“Most editors are failed writers–but so are most writers.” — T.S. Eliot

“Nature fits all her children with something to do, He who would write and can’t write, can surely review.” — James Russell Lowell

“Beyond talent lie all the usual words:  discipline, love, luck–but, most of all, endurance.” — James Baldwin.

The Write Life October 15, 2011

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I’m editing a young adult novel for another author, working full-time on a yearlong assignment for the state I live in, and preparing a series of articles on a local mission and its founder. Like most writers, I find I can’t support myself solely on book sales, so I do a wide variety of jobs:  freelancing nonfiction articles for magazines and newspapers, writing short stories and books, copy editing and proofreading for corporations, editing the work of other writers, speaking at schools and conferences, and, sometimes, working an 8-to-5 job besides. That’s the write life!

Breeding Contempt with Elvis April 3, 2010

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My oldest sister recently told me about a good book she’d read, Me & Emma, by Elizabeth Flock. I read it and liked it, too, but a few scenes puzzled me. The back of the book listed an e-mail address for the author, so I sent her my questions. She responded promptly with a letter of explanation. This, from a New York Times bestselling author.

“That was really nice,” my sister said. “I’m surprised she’d take the time to do that.”

I appreciated the time Elizabeth Flock took to respond but wasn’t overly surprised. Authors are more accessible than they’ve ever been. Even the most famous allow for direct reader contact through their Web sites or social networks. 

I sometimes wonder if all of this accessibility builds an artist’s fame or limits it. I think about Elvis Presley and how carefully Colonel Tom Parker controlled his public image and access.  So few people saw into Elvis’s day-to-day life.  Would so many fans have been clamoring at the gates of Graceland had they been able to e-mail Elvis or chat with him on Facebook?

I have to believe the old saying “Familiarity breeds contempt” bears some truth. Inaccessibility can add to the allure and mystique of a person. It’s easy to be awed by people whose foibles you never see. And you’re less likely to see those foibles the less direct contact you have with them.

I may be in the minority, but I still haven’t signed up to receive tweets from Ashton Kutcher or President Obama. I’d really like to keep it a mystery what they ate for dinner.

But, as an author, I would like to know the effect increased accessibility has on fame. What do you think?

Networking January 5, 2010

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This past week showed me once again that networking pays.

After I sold a story to Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) for use in their anthology, The Mommy Diaries:  Finding Yourself in the Daily Adventure, the book’s editor wrote me that she liked my writing style and encouraged me to submit to the MOPS magazine. I did and received an acceptance for an article this past week.

This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. Some publishing houses publish magazines as well as books and will use the same writers for both. A few years ago I sold a story to Encounter magazine, and the publisher, Standard, let me know that they planned to compile an anthology of their favorite stories from the magazine.  They wanted to know if I would sell them reprint rights for my story. I said yes. That story appeared in Encounters With God 2.

When I started writing, I focused on writing books, but I soon learned to expand my reach into the magazine market. Opportunities sometimes arise in unexpected places.

I’ve seen this in promoting my books also. After I signed books at a bookstore, a woman contacted me about speaking at a literature festival she coordinates. Just this past week, a friend of a friend called to inquire about booking me for a school visit.

A friend of a blogger I had networked with interviewed me this past week and has posted the interview and reviews of my two latest books on her site, “My Only Vice” (http://gravesok.wordpress.com).

And the editor of one of my favorite writing resources, Children’s Book Insider, read my latest book, Living It Up to Live It Down, and scheduled an interview with me. The interview will air in late January on the CBI Clubhouse.  I should receive a link to the podcast shortly after that.

Not a bad week.